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In the Northern Hemisphere, the Winter Solstice occurs around December 21st, when the Sun is at its greatest distance below the celestial equator. The Vernal Equinox occurs around March 21st when the sun crosses the celestial equator and days have the same duration as nights ("equinox" comes from a Latin word meaning "time of equal days and nights"). The Vernal Equinox marks the beginning of Spring. The constellation (Zodiac sign) visible at dawn on the day of the Vernal Equinox has been regarded as of special significance (currently changing from Pisces to Aquarius due to the 26,000 year precession of the Earth -- the advent of "the Age of Aquarius").

The chief holiday for the ancient Hebrews was celebrated at the first full moon after the Vernal Equinox. Although this holiday was originally a celebration of Spring, it was later celebrated in remembrance of the Exodus from Egypt and was called Passover. The holiday entered Christian celebration by the fact that Christ was reputedly arrested and crucified at Passover. Because Christians insisted that Easter should be celebrated on a Sunday, the Council of Nicea decreed that Easter be the first Sunday after the fourteenth day of the moon (which is approximately the full moon) following the date of the Vernal Equinox (which is assumed to be March 21st). In the first centuries of Christianity Easter was by far the most significant Christian holiday and Christmas was not a holiday at all.

The word for "Easter" in most of the Romance Languages is a variant of the Hebrew "Passover", but the English word is unrelated to these forms. Possibly, the English word "Easter" is derived from the name of an Anglo-Saxon goddess of Spring, "Eostre". Or it may have come from "Ishtar/Astarte" the Babylonian/Chaldean Venus who was the consort of the sun-god. Sunrise service, painted eggs and rabbits have all symbolized rebirth and fertility in Spring celebrations from ancient times. Celebration of motherhood (mother's day) is also most often in the Spring, another possible association with fertility.
Osiris then dwelled in the underworld as the king & judge of the dead. Isis nonetheless gave birth to the divine child "Horus the younger" (presumably a virgin birth). In fourth-century Alexandria, "Madonna" could have been a reference to the mother goddess Isis or Saint Mary. The last Egyptian Temple of Isis was converted to a Christian Church in the sixth century AD.
Stars had signalled the birth of Krishna, Lao-Tze, Moses and Abraham. Several attempts have been made to give explanations for the Star of Bethlehem. In the 14th century Albert Magnus (teacher of Thomas Aquinas) noted that the constellation Virgo rose above the horizon at midnight on December 24th at the reputed time of Christ's birth.
In 270 AD a professional army officer named Aurelian rose to be emperor and was able to reunite the Roman Empire through military might. In 274 AD he attempted to unit the religions of the empire under the state cult of Sol invictus ("unconquerable Sun"). Aurelian's new temple enshrined the Sun gods of Babylonia (Baal, Bel or Marduk). Although Mithras was not formally acknowledged, Natalis solis invicti ("birth of the unconquered sun") was, nonetheless, on December 25th.
The Japanese celebrate oseibo, a gift-giving season that is coincidentally in December.
In the 1960s an activist California professor of Black Studies created the holiday of Kwanzaa in reaction against Christmas as an institution of commericialism & exploitation not relevant to African-Americans. The word "Kwanzaa" comes from a phrase meaning "first fruits" in Swahili, the most widely spoken African language. In the seven days from December 26th to January 1st the seven communitarian African values are strengthened & celebrated: Unity, Self-determination, Collective Work and Responsibility, Cooperative Economics, Purpose, Creativity and Faith.

Sirius is the name of the principal star in the constellation Canis Major. It's also the brightest star in the heavens and is only 8.6 light years from earth, making it one of the closest stars in our stellar neighborhood. It is visible in the Northern Hemisphere from December to March, and visible in the Southern Hemisphere between November and April. If you want to see Sirius for yourself, look up at the night sky towards the south. If you know the constellation "Orion the Hunter," locate his belt. Follow along his belt line off towards the left and you'll see a very bright star, that's Sirius. We named ourselves after the star because we believe that Sirius Technology Group is the "brightest star" when it comes to providing quality software for the automotive industry.

The celestial imagery, therefore, is that on the 25th December, right after sunset, the three stars of Orion's belt were seen rising in the east as if to 'herald' the coming of the birth-star Sirius, which followed about one hour after. It would be very unlikely that such a powerful celestial sign which was known to denote the 'birth of the divine child' in Egypt since time immemorial would not have been unnoticed by the writer of the 'Matthew' Gospel. It seems evident that the introduction of a new divine child (Jesus) born from the Madonna (Mary) in Egypt and the Graeco-Roman world would benefit greatly by absorbing the older and very powerful mythology of Isis and her star, Sirius.

Plate 11: Madonna and Child (Leonardo Da Vinci)

Thus Isis and the child Horus were metamorphosed into the Madonna and child Jesus, and the star Sirius became the 'Star of the East' which the wise men saw and heralded the birth of Jesus. Much later, three wise men became known as the 'three kings' in Western tradition and, in keeping with stellar symbolism, they also became identified to the three stars of Orion's belt.

The most crucial determination made by the Nicene council was that the Spring Equinox fell on the date of March the 21st, thereby setting Easter from this date.

Things stayed pretty much the same until 527 AD, when Dionysius Exiguus instituted the so-called "Christian Era." He overturned the Julian practice of dating back to 4713 BC, and established the BC and AD dating system. In doing so, he established a date for both the incarnation and birth of Christ (March 25th, and December 25th respectively. December 26th is the birthday of Osiris). From that time on, all dates would be marked from the year of Christ's birth, and the turn of the 3rd Millennium was then set at January 1, 2000 AD.

Out of all of the places on the Eastern horizon for the sun to rise on December 25th, it rises directly below the star Sirius (a.k.a. - The Star of Bethlehem).

December 21st of each year the Sun reaches its lowest point of declination at the Tropic of Capricorn. It then remains, seemingly motionless (Sol, the Sun, "stands still" Sol-stice) the 22nd, 23rd and 24th, and then on the 25th of December (Christmas) it has noticeably started its return North toward the Equator and therefore is "born again".

Have the heart of a gypsy, and the dedication of a soldier -Beethoven in Beethoven Lives Upstairs

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I suppose there is some debate about the star of Bethlehem. The "Dog Star" does work as an annually recurring symbol.

Most astronomers speculate that the "Star in the East" was not a star at all but a mars Jupiter conjunction that was so close as to be visible in the daytime as well as night as one point of light. That this occurred only once at a date that we would put as 6 BC and not December 25th either shouldn't render it unlikely.

Do we not also portray Jesus in the image of our own time?

It only requires an accounting of six lost years in the recording of two thousand years of history.

In fact if Christ was born in the year Zero he would have been born after the death of King Herod who was the one who said that all would be taxed who remained in the Holy Land. This was the reason for the flight of Joseph and the pregnant Mary to Egypt. It isn't possible for this to have occured after Herod's death, so the 6 BC date makes sense since Herod would have been near death but still living, and so does the star in the east make sense as in fact being a planetary conjunction.

The planets were known then as "wandering stars" It is only after Galileo and the development of the telescope that planets were identified as being generically different from stars.

I see no contradiction here. Orion's belt as the three wise men - and Sirius symbolically as the "Star in the East" sits well with me whether or not it would literally have been the star in question.

So does the unique event witnessed by the actual three kings ring true though most probably that other astrological event was the phenomenon.

But we have observed the sky for eons and perhaps with more appreciation before the electric light. And we tend to use the sky to project our myths and symbols. More remarkable than the number of stars has been our ability to name them.

In Egyptian astrology the Dog Star is a symbol of faithfulness. The Constellation Canis Major rules the middle decanate of Gemini and "loyalty" is the keyword.

Cygnus is not only the Swan but the same constellation is the Northern Cross. It rules the first decanate of Capricorn and would be the sign that rules Capricorn from December 21st through December 31st. It's keyword is "organization."

It's a perfect time for retailers to sell off last year's stock and to get ready for the January Sale and new stock being set out after Chinese New Year. Happy Year of the Rooster everybody.

There was a beautiful sunset here a few minutes later than a day before. You can almost feel the days getting longer.

In the words of Tiny Tim, God Bless us all!

PS: Another good constellation is one that looks like the one immediately above in Vicky's post, Triangulum (a triangle with wings) which rules the first decanate (10˚ segment) of Aries which in Astrological Calendar is the beginning of the new Cycle and Year.

Isn't it great that our "father's house" has many mansions, and that there is more than one window from which to view the varied and nonetheless connected universal universe under one God where All is One.

(Everything's happening perfectly. . .)

Merry Kwaanzukahmas to all!
Here's a link that seems to be the most scientific and the least speculative on the Planetary Conjunction dates and the abberations of the Roman Calendar.

I found a few other pages of speculations, some making statements such as "the conjunction was not close enough to make a Jupiter mars saturn conjunction look like a star." But there were two close conjunctions in the specified time period, the other being a Jupiter Venus conjunction within a degree.

One page (by someone who claimed to have a "copyright" to his speculations suggest that one degree is more than enough distance to see the conjunction as two objects. I would tend to disagree and would cite Neil Michelson who wrote the mathematical formulae that both astronomers and astrologers use to speculate on planetary positions past present an future. He states that there will always be some uncertainty about the actual positions. If by his calculations there was a single conjunction in the early days of Caesar Augustus that was especially close and within a degree, isn't it possible that it was in fact closer to a point at which the Morning Star and the brightest object would appear so bright as to be seen in the day?

Most astronomers prefer this explanation to all others. Sirius was not visible in the day, and with the exception of a small number of documented supernovae and comets there is probably no better explanation than that the actual star in the east was one of those two conjunctions.

I'm rather fonder of "Faith" as a stance to take in life over "Belief." The word "Belief" according to some word etymologists (not all of them) means to "be-lie" as fact that of which one is uncertain. I'm sure this is a fact but then, I tend to like Buddhism a rather atheistic view of the universe. The Buddhists may favor awareness of what actually is to a belief of what one would would like to think was so. We still a sense of the miracle of life and the "divine." Surely the miracle of Christ was to recognize that to "love one another" is the path to the Divine.

My intent wouldn't be to offend anyone with this observation, but to re-emphasize the validity of the many paths that we all tread that are really one path as part of one life in which we are all interdependent and interconnected.

To proceed with love and awareness would be my way. What I believe or what you believe is not so important.

Peace, Love and Harmony.

Dear Teo and dear NB, this was a very fascinating read ... thank you both.

To look through a potent telescope is one of the greatest emotions we can experience, in my opinion.

I like to think of the star of Betlehem as I did as a child ... there was this magical light in the sky when divine light took form on our Earth ... scientific research on this behalf is nonetheless very interesting.

I wish we could see more stars with the naked eye, but in the highly illuminated towns there is no chance ... but I am happy that I see Ursa major very clearly ...

Love and LIGHT.
Margherita 2Hearts


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